Have you ever looked in your cabinets (which are full of food) and found that there was nothing to eat?
We’ve all been there.
The dreaded “what to fix for dinner” syndrome, also known as the cooking blues.
With a little planning, you can beat the cooking blues.
Let’s get started!
Reasons To Use A Weekly Meal Plan
Saves You Money
Planning your meals ahead of time will reduce the amount of waste going into the trash.
Knowing what is in your cabinets will help to rotate your food ensuring nothing goes out of date.
You also save money by buying only what you need rather than going to the grocery store “blind.”
Planning ahead helps you to create and maintain a weekly meal plan on a budget.
Saves You Time
A shopping list helps to save time. You can order from your computer using Walmart Grocery Pickup for example and not waste an excessive amount of time in the grocery store.
Not only are you eliminating the unnecessary items from your cart, but you are also removing the chance of purchasing items on impulse.
By having a meal plan in place, you can prep ahead on the weekend for faster meal prep during the week.
By planning your meal ahead of time, you increase your awareness of what you are eating.
You are also decreasing the chance of buying take out rather than cooking a fresh, nutritious meal.
Meal planning increases your mindfulness of what you are taking into your body.
It is the small daily decisions to eat healthier that will make the most significant difference in your life in the long run.
The dinner time blues adds constant stress on your already stressful day, but it is easy to prevent if you plan ahead.
An excellent way to track your meal plans is by using a bullet journal.
What? You don’t know what bullet journaling is?
Bullet journaling is the method by which a person lives an intentional life.
Click the image below to learn how a bullet journal can add value to your life, help you save money, and improve your productivity.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand.
Weekly meal plans can be reused over and over again. This saves time for future planning and prep.
What Do You Need To Start A Weekly Meal Plan?
There are many different tools out there that you can use to plan your meals. Using a weekly meal planner app is helpful if you are a working mom trying to keep your family healthy while sticking to a weekly meal plan budget.
It makes meal planning and shopping easy with prebuilt lists, nutritional facts for weight loss or muscle gain, plus a built-in shopping list that you can print and use at the grocery store.
The app is also accessible via phone so you can plan your week while waiting in the school pick up line on your kids or while you are sitting at the doctor’s office waiting to be seen.
If you find you don’t have enough time to sit down each week and plan out your meals and shopping list, Meal Plan Magic might be just what you are looking for.
For $37 you get lifetime access to a diverse set of weekly meal plan templates.
Another meal planning app I have used before is eMeals.
eMeals offers a 14 day free trial for their app so you can get the full picture of what you are buying before you pay.
It’s FREE! And who doesn’t like free stuff? You’ve got nothing to lose!
If eMeals is not for you, back out before the 14-day trial ends. Again—there is nothing to lose.
Their program includes free weekly meal plans on a budget.
One feature I really like about the eMeals app is the ability to link your meal list to your local grocery store app (Walmart Grocery, Kroger, Amazon Fresh, Instacart, etc.).
This app makes buying, planning and saving easy.
But, if like me, you enjoy planning ahead and trying new recipes, the bullet journal method might work best for you—or maybe a combination of both.
How to make a weekly meal plan:
Take a good look in your cabinets, pantry, freezer, and refrigerator.
Knowing what you have on hand makes it easier to figure out what you need to use up.
Write down the items you need to use up of first.
For example, I have a pack of chicken legs in the refrigerator that needs to be cooked within the next day or so or else it will spoil. So, I will plan on adding chicken legs to my menu at the beginning of the week.
If you get stuck trying to figure out how to use out what you have, you can always look up a recipe.
My favorite recipes come from magazines.MagazineBargains.com
If you use the code Save10 you can save 10% off of your magazine subscription.
Allrecipes, Rachel Ray Everyday, Taste of Home, and Eating Well are just a few of the magazines you can get each month to help with your weekly meal planning.
Keep your pantry stocked at all times.
Stocking your pantry is simple if you use a pantry checklist.
Don’t have a pantry checklist? No worries! I have one for you.
There are 85 essential items you should keep in your pantry at all times.
Click the image below to learn more.
Work Your Way Through A Cook Book
Recently I’ve been working my way through a Campbell’s Recipe book that I found on sale on Amazon.Campbell’s 3 Books in 1: 4 Ingredients or Less Cookbook, Casseroles and One-Dish Meals Cookbook, Slow Cooker Recipes Cookbook
I like to write in my recipe books and rate each recipe according to how much was left over after my family finished eating.
Eating the same thing every week becomes tiresome. Trying new recipes and diversifying the menu keeps my family happy.
How Do You Add Diversity To Your Menu?
Think about when you go to a restaurant, the local Applebees or Olive Garden for example.
When you sit and look at their menu, you will see an array of burgers, sandwiches, salads, steaks, chicken, etc.
When you look at your menu for the week, you should see diversity too!
To add diversity to your menu, start by varying your meats.
No one in their right mind wants to eat chicken every day. There is only so much you can do with chicken before it becomes monotonous.
Fill your menu with good, lean proteins from different food groups as well as healthy fats and lots of vegetables.
Go vegan for one night a week.
Not only will eating vegan save you money (meat is expensive!), but it is also good for your health.
Eating fresh, clean, nutritious food as well as exercising regularly will help to keep your body healthy.
Tips For Meal Prep Beginners
If you have never prepped your meals before, I suggest you start by planning for one meal a day.
For example, my family and I plan out our weekly meals on Saturday.
Yes, my family helps. Planning together as a family teaches my kids how to plan ahead and how to be money savvy. These are skills they will need when they get older.
We plan our meals on Saturday morning. This allows me time to shop for the items I need on Walmart grocery.
Shopping online for my groceries and then picking them up without stepping a foot inside the store not only saves me time, but also a lot of money.
I wrote a post recently about how I have saved money by shopping online. You can check it out by >>> (opens in a new tab)” href=”https://cynthiabrandel.com/2019/02/25/how-i-saved-shopping-on-amazon-prime-pantry/” target=”_blank”>clicking here>>>>
When planning your meal, keep it balanced.
A healthy diet includes foods from all the food groups.
Now, I’m not saying you have to drink milk with every meal or that you have to eat fruit three times a day.
For a healthy diet, you need to get your calories from different food sources without trying to starve yourself before the next meal.
For example, I can eat a 12oz bowl of steamed broccoli for dinner (not that I would, but that I could). Within an hour, I would be hungry again.
But what if I ate 4oz of rice, 4 oz of baked chicken and 4oz of steamed broccoli. It is still 12oz of food, but I would feel full for a few hours afterward.
Why? Foods break down differently as they are digested.
On the converse side of this discussion, I could eat a 12oz bowl of pasta and feel full, but the next morning my face would be puffy and my stomach bloated.
My point is that different foods react differently for different people. You were created unique and your body needs a variety to stay healthy.
Use meal prep containers for portioning.Evolutionize Healthy Meal Prep Containers – Certified BPA-free – Reusable, Washable, Microwavable Food Containers/Bento Box with Lids (7 Pack, Single Compartment, 28 Ounce)
Meal prep containers come in especially helpful if you take your lunch to work every day.
If you are like me, you don’t get a lot of time to actually sit and eat lunch. Most days I find myself eating at my desk.
Eating out every day gets expensive, not to mention it can be bad for your health.
Using meal prep containers, like the ones above, make eating healthy at work easy and saves me money.
Who doesn’t like to save money?
Now that you know the reasons behind starting a weekly meal plan, are you going to join the countless others who have already hopped on the meal planning train?
Snag your free meal planner from the Library of Freebies!
Looking for more to read?
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- June 2020 Month Review (Level 10 Life)